How to break up with your toxic best friend

A drunken phone call probably won’t go down well

Sometimes it’s forgotten that we actively choose the people in our lives. Just as we allow people to become close to us, so do we also have the power to kick people out who no longer make us happy. Friendships should be enjoyable, not anxiety-inducing. Friends are the people who should make you feel better about yourself and have a positive impact in your life. They embrace you as you are and have qualities you’d be proud to emulate. But friends don’t always act like friends. And when that becomes a continuous pattern, it’s time they get the dump.

We know how painful break ups can be – gigantic amounts of food, a tumbling descent into self-pity and a depressing fear we will never be the same again. But what about the less painful break ups? The ones we didn’t think we had the strength to execute. Those that don’t result in endless fits of crying or a necessary rebound. Rather, there’s relief.

A toxic friend probably owes you money, and they definitely spill your secrets. They care more about their well-being than yours, and struggle to express happiness at your successes. One-upping, jealousy and tense competition run rampant and backhanded compliments are all too prevalent. Perhaps you don’t like how you act when you’re around them or they bring out the worst in you.

The fighting supersedes the harmony – you feel emotionally drained from their presence. If you aren’t acting like your true self around them, then are controlling factors at play? They may be manipulative or have you worried not to put a foot wrong for fear of their wrath. When self-esteem is negatively affected, is it really a friendship at all? Maximum toxicity if they stir up issues between you and your other friends. In a nutshell, they’re extremely selfish.

It may seem justified to carry on a friendship because you’ve been friends for “so long”. But at the end of the day, we need to place value on our own wellbeing. If standing up for ourselves and splitting from someone who no longer makes a positive contribution to our lives can make us happier, then that’s a justified thing to do.

Method #1: Texting

For those who still have enough respect for their friend to want to communicate their desires to move on, but not enough respect to warrant a long phone call explanation. This route is best for those who aren’t on the same page as their best friend and suspect they don’t see the end coming any time soon. They meant enough to you at one point in your life for you to articulate why you want to break up, and ghosting is perhaps too cruel an ending.

For those in over dramatic friendships, a heartfelt essay is the most natural route. Otherwise, a clear and concise explanation with your reasons for the break up is necessary for damage control, or they may think there’s still hope for the friendship. If you’re in the same circle of friends, make a conscious effort not to go to social situations that you know they’ll be attending or World War 3 could erupt.

Being gentle rather than aggressive will make the break up easier for both of you – after all this was your best friend at one point. It’s definitely a bad break up if it results in a long text argument.

Method #2: Letting it end naturally

The slow fade can only work if the feelings are mutual and you’ve been growing apart for some time. And it definitely won’t work unless you’re living or studying in different places and moving on with your lives. For sure the most peaceful of break up methods, however.

Method #3: Ghosting

This is the phenomenon of ceasing all contact with someone without giving an explanation. It’s suited to the poor souls who’ve grown to detest the person and without serious action can’t rely on the friendship ever fading away. For this to be as effective as possible you must be strict with yourself and ignore every text or call, as tempting as it may be to reply. Ideally your best friend should be blocked on all forms of communication so they can never reach you again. If you have mutual friends, make sure they know to stay out of it.

A less adult approach perhaps, but the most suitable option if your best friend is a full on psycho and any explanation will fall on deaf ears. Those who text break up don’t mind an extended break up – they may have a slight interest in a potential reply. So while ghosting isn’t necessarily the most sensitive approach to take, it’s ideal for those who want to move on immediately, avoid conflict and forget the friendship ever happened.

Method #4: Confronting them in person

Best for the antagonistic amongst you as undoubtedly conflict will arise as your friend tries to defend themselves. However if your friend is controlling or manipulative, then this may be too daunting a route to take and will definitely have you feeling much worse afterwards.

Pick a neutral place to meet like a park – if you’re in a public place you’re more likely to both remain contained regardless if things get emotional. And definitely do NOT do it in front of people you both know. Both embarrassing and hurtful.

Method #5 – Drunken call

There is an old saying, “drunk mind sober thoughts”. Indeed alcohol does have the ability to make us more emotional. So chug some tequila and make an expressive (or enraged) phone call to your tormentor. The shyer types get the kick they need and the pre-break up nerves are settled. Speech will be less coherent but all your feelings will come out so at least you’re ending it real. Expect the hangover from hell. Crying on the phone probably won’t go down well, unless you secretly want to give them a chance to fix the wounds.

Finally, a break up with a best friend should never be enacted based on half-hearted desires or for petty reasons. Rather, the result of a long period of reasonable thinking and a true desire to have the end actually be the end. Or else you may end up with an especially heart-rending aftermath that could fill you with regret.

But don’t beat yourself up over a break up. Friendships can dwindle as we grow and move on with life. And people can change. So if you find your happiness continually impinged in the presence of your best friend, take a step back and ask yourself if you actually like them.